|Lavrov to punt ...|
Lavrov said Crimea was very important for Russia but added that he could not comment further on the upcoming referendum until its results were clear. "Crimea is immeasurably more important for Russia than the Falkland Islands for Britain and the Comoro Islands for France," he said, Interfax reported. "I am sure that if Kosovo was a special case, Crimea is as much special as Kosovo."Western leaders have rebuked Russia for supposedly not holding a proper dialogue with both the current Ukrainian government and the international community. Russia has refused to acknowledge the new Ukrainian authorities, but Lavrov said that Russia-Ukraine cooperation had not stopped and that Ukraine could talk with Russia directly without using international mechanisms. It was unclear what form such communication could take.Kerry had earlier presented Lavrov with proposals on Ukraine, offering to organize a contact group in order to establish a dialogue between the two countries. But Lavrov said the proposals were unsatisfactory since they were based on the notion that there was a "conflict between Russia and Ukraine."
Another deadline will come and pass, with the referendum in Crimea. After that, Putin’s Russia will accept the invitation from the voters of Crimea to join Russia, and take immediate steps to pour thousands of Russian troops (with insignia on, this time) and Russian technicians into Crimea. Within months, a bridge to link Crimea with Russia will be started, and the Russian portion of Crimea will have increased substantially from its current 2 million mark.
Meanwhile, the unrest in the Russian-speaking eastern enclaves in the Rest of Ukraine (ROU) will steadily increase, with more and more pro-Russian and anti-Russian violent clashes.
When unrest is clear in most of the ethnic Russian parts of the ROU, Russia will propose to the West the holding of referenda in those areas, and in the ROU, on a choice of independence, or a revision of the Ukranian constitution to allow immediate and substantial devolution of major powers to the various regions of the Ukraine. This will include extensive economic rights as well as police and security matters.
The Ukranian government will be in a difficult position – to refuse any referenda would cast it in the light of one ethnic group (the Ukranians) avoiding the issue of what to do with other ethnic groups in the eastern part of Ukraine.
The EU and the US will make a counter-proposal: that the referenda be monitored and run by a UN team of observers. Russia will agree, as long as the actual question of the referendum, and the majority needed for success, is acceptable to itself.
The Ukraine will then hold the referenda, and a new federation will see the light of day.
That’s my take on where the soccer ball stops rolling, for a while.